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African Tribalism

African Tribalism

The Anthropological concept of exactly what African Tribalism is can be explored in a custom research paper from Paper Masters. If you need research on African Tribalism, contact us today to help with writing on the cultural aspects of tribalism.

Misinterpretation or misrepresentation of a cultural identity or social identity lends a grave disservice to history, sociology, and the ethnic group itself. A gross negligence of social responsibility is demonstrated in the "Ethnographic Survey of Africa" with the creation of what is known as idealized fiction of a cultural identity.

Within the first sentence of the survey, the words "tribal societies of Africa" sets the stage for preconceived notions of what the societies are made up of - tribes.

  • Tribes is a historically ambiguous term that is not accurate to use in a ethnographic survey because of the many interpretations across fields of study.
  • Tribe is a term from the 19th Century which delineates non-white people as less superior and not evolved, living in a primal civilization.
  • Typically, tribe was thought to be a hunting and gathering group of 100 or less people.
  • To denote a people as a tribe takes from their political, social and ethnic power and demeans the potential of the group.

The people studied in the ethnographic survey defied definition in such a broad sense due to the fact they had a way of life that was unknown to Western Culture before the 20th Century and could not be defined by our standards due to language and interpretive barriers.

The inability to allocate a proper descriptive term to the collective group leads into the second glaring error of assumption on the part of the survey, the language interpretation. The survey states "The languages of these peoples are closely similar, so much so that the whole group of peoples in this area has been termed "Bamba-speaking". Deductively speaking, if language is not in accordance with the ability to translate correctly, information is assumptive upon the dialect of one grouping. The survey itself states that there are at least 5, and undoubtedly more, different dialects with certain distinct features. The language barrier opens the door for supposition, myth and racism without proper understanding or defense on the part of the group defined.

To further the myth of tribal identity in Africa, the survey points to the hierarchy of the tribal chief as the leader of the "centralized form of government" in which a royal dynasty exists. By setting up the African government as primitive and without the trappings of what traditionally would be European governmental colonialism, the survey demeaned the effectiveness of the existing order. Assigning the name of "chief" to the leader plays into the tribalism that the English relished, in order to plead the case for civilizing the tribes of South Africa.

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